Tamarind Tree

Written by on January 31, 2010 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(tamarindtreerestaurant.com) – International District’s Little Saigon, Seattle, Washington

Tamarind Tree

How I heard of this place: Sadly, I fail to recall who which of my smart, foodie friends first introduced me to the likes of Tamarind Tree. And now, nearly three years later, I find myself strangely being reminded of it at every turn.

Tamarind Tree Strip

Type of cuisine: Provincial Vietnamese, where the food is upscale and updated, “…Tamarind Tree managed to blend style (black lacquer, bamboo accents) with dishes as authentic as any I’ve eaten in this country.” -Matt Gross, The New York Times, November 25, 2007

Tamarind Tree Host

Tamarind Tree manages exotic elegance…and a real-deal Vietnamese menu.” -(Best International Restaurant 2006) Kathryn Robinson, Seattle Metropolitan, November 1, 2006

Tamarind Tree Bar

Ambiance: We sat outside – yes, in January!

Tamarind Tree Outdoor

And while it’s a corner lot in the midst of a strange area in the International District, the orange plexi-glass shutters, bamboo garden and rock fountain (not to mention the amazingly warm outdoor heaters) kept us warm and feeling as though inside a cozy restaurant.

Tamarind Tree Dining

The inside looked nice, as we walked through it – also recently remodeled and very sleek yet cozy; the mood-lighting and artfully presented food accenting the bamboo and black lacquer throughout the space.

Tamarind Tree Mood Lighting

What I ordered: A little of everything – though, in actuality, the menu is so extensive that it overwhelms the mind and one couldn’t possibly try each item. Instead, I asked Conrad, our waiter – who was very helpful, friendly and had the entire menu memorized (literally) – for his top three recommendations. He came out with six or seven. Most of which we ate. For starters, our party of five shared the Green Mango Salad, which included julienned (ripe) mango, freshly pickled jicama, julienned carrot, roasted peanuts, and fresh herbs served with tamarind sauce and (at our selection) grilled chicken.

Tamarind Tree Green Mango Salad

Off of their specialties we ordered the Tamarind Tree Crepe, which was a delicious combination of scallops, prawns, pork slices, Shiitake mushroom, bean sprouts, and mung beans in fried rice batter topped with coconut milk served with a platter of greens. Then came the various entrees, the first a plate of Grilled Beef Short Ribs served with steamed rice and “mixed herbs fish sauce”. This was followed by Thang Long Yellow Fish, a tumeric seasoned catfish filet with rice crackers, roasted peanuts, fresh vegetables, and herbs served with a very salty and seafood-y shrimp paste sauce. Our vegetable dish was the Shiitake mushroom chayote – chayote stir-fried with Shiitake mushrooms and garlic, sprinkled with fresh ground black pepper to give it a kick. The final dish we ordered was the Curry Chicken, braised with potato and served with fresh lime and chili salt.

Tamarind Tree Noodle Close-Up

After such an overwhelmingly flavorful menu, each new dish more exciting than the one before, we simply could not leave without having tried at least one dessert. Conrad suggested the Grilled Cassava – a grilled coconut cassava root served with warm coconut milk, topped with roasted peanuts. We also sampled four of their in-house made ice creams – red chili, pandan, roasted coconut and ginger. Each ice cream selection was a perfect taste of its name: the spicy red chili which continued to burn the top of your mouth even after swallowing, the ginger which was slightly spicy but cool and refreshing, the roasted coconut a perfect buttery and sweet taste, and the pandan (which was my personal least favorite) the frozen version of a strong green tea.

Tamarind Tree Place Setting

On a return visit, Friday, 20 December 2013We returned for the birthday of a good friend of ours, along with nearly twenty others! Our large party enjoyed Goi Cuon or Spring Rolls with pork and prawn ($6) and Goi Xoai, the Green Mango Salad ($8.50) to start.

Tamarind Tree Spring Rolls

For our main entrees, there were a number of orders, most of which included the Bun Thit Bo Xao Xa Ot, Chili Lemongrass Beef ($10 each), or another of the large noodle bowls with a protein of choice.

Tamarind Tree Chili Lemongrass Beef

My husband and I shared one Chili Lemongrass Beef at the recommendation of our very honest server,

Tamarind Tree Chili Lemongrass Beef Noodle

and also delighted in the La Lot Lemongrass Chicken with Rice ($9.25).

Tamarind Tree La Lot Lemongrass Chicken

On a return visit, Tuesday, April 29, 2014We returned to Tamarind Tree with my in-laws for a mid-week meal away from home. We took our seats in the outdoor courtyard, fenced in bamboo, joining diners who were taking in the spring,

Tamarind Tree Outdoor Seating

and placed our orders.

Tamarind Tree Bamboo Candles

We started with the Lemongrass Tofu Satay ($5), local fresh tofu marinated in lemongrass, onion, garlic, and seasoning served with mixed herb soy sauce,

Tamarind Tree Tofu Satay

and the Cinnamon Pork Rice Ball ($7.50), a plate of cinnamon ground pork coated with early harvested green rice deep-fried and served with tamarind fish sauce.

Tamarind Tree Cinnamon Pork

For our main entrees, my husband chose the Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Rice ($9.50), steamed rice with grilled beef short ribs, served with mixed herbs (salad) and fish sauce.

Tamarind Tree Grilled Beef Short Rib

My sister-in-law selected the Special Vegetarian Steamed Roll ($10) for marinated shiitake mushroom, carrot, onion and tofu filling, Co Ngu crispy tofu, and Vietnamese vegetarian roll slices served with vegetarian soy sauce.

Tamarind Tree Vegetarian Steamed Roll

Both of my parents-in law and I selected the Tamarind Tree Noodles ($12), a combination of skewered grilled pork and chicken, deep fried egg roll, grilled shrimp-cake on sugarcane and grilled prawn served with mixed herb fish sauce.

Tamarind Tree Noodle

What I loved: This is hard since everything was so delicious. One of my favorites was the Tamarind Tree crepe, which we wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in a delicious sauce that I continued to use with every other dish throughout the night. I also greatly enjoyed the Shitake mushroom chayote for the light squash and slightly spicy flavors. The dessert winner was the grilled cassava, though next time I’m going to try the Grilled Banana Cake.

Tamarind Tree Tea

Why I loved it: Each item came out family style as it was ready, so we had the opportunity to eat our way through the evening without feeling like there were too many things on the table at once to try.

Tamarind Tree Amber Glow

Cost: mid-range $10-$20 per entree

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